Friends Before Family

This season I have had disturbing conversations about friendship.

My heart breaks over and over hearing people talking about the pain of relationships in the time of hardships. I have been blessed to have long lasting relationships that are judgement free but deeply accountable and I have been judged and denounced by those I thought were friends. True friendship is intense and often hard to maintain because it needs extreme vulnerability that keep it alive. The hidden truth is that you cannot have many of these deep relationships. You cannot be naked and unashamed with many people.

Friendship is the foundation of all relationships even in the family. Just because we are born of the same father and mother and raised in the same home does not mean we are automatically friends; friendship must be cultivated. Many of us are closer to our friends when things are good and when trouble shows up things change. As a result, we often say that family sticks closer even in times of need, but I do not really agree because of the things I have seen around me. Friendship is foundational for a stable life.

Let me explain what broke my heart…

The heart-breaking side of the conversations I had was summed up here, ‘…people tend to leave when they don’t want to deal with other people’s issues.’ Yes, they get up and vamoose; gone, left, never to return. I have heard of many who have lost livelihoods and income and impact only to lose their ‘friends and family connections.’ If your family or friends walk away because you can no longer meet their needs or hang out with them, were they really friends and family? You judge that!!

I remember a few years ago when my own life fell apart. The business tanked, finances fled through every open window and door and I was marooned in the house. I already knew that though I live less than 20km outside Nairobi, most people thought I lived too far so no one would come to see me. I knew that most people believed that I was from an established family, married into a stable one and I was most likely to succeed so they couldn’t reconcile the place I was.

The truth was so far from their thoughts.

Worse still, I was angry!!! Oh boy, angry at God for letting me down, at myself for failing, at the world for not knowing me, at everything including those who were enjoying their lives. The things going on around me left me so bruised and broken that I lashed out at everything and everyone around me out loud or in silent defiance. I spiralled into a very deep depression because I couldn’t understand how my life could be so unfulfilling yet I had done everything ‘right’. In the middle of the darkness, a couple of my people refused to leave me there.

One called me every day, checking on me, making me smile, giving me things to think about that moved my eyes from the mud and murk I was stuck in and all the excuses I was giving to possibilities. Another always had a long, warm hug waiting for me when we met and a reminder that the strong, decisive girl they met in our youth still existed somewhere in there. Another regularly reminded me I was loved until I believed it and in time I rose out of the darkness, into a breathtakingly beautiful, incredibly bright and deeply loved and loveable human being.

This is why I am heart broken in this season.

Many people are hurting because they have lost their jobs, opportunities, families and friends while others are holding their breath waiting for people to walk away because that has been the pattern of their lives. Ouch!!! I remember one of my friends asked me why I still stay even when they are so far and have nothing to offer. I didn’t answer because for a while, it was hard to put into words the depth of my commitment to be true to my people.

In time it came to me clearly. As long as I live, I will remain a true friend of anyone sent my way because I have had the blessing of having someone in my corner no matter what and that has given me the strength to be insanely deep and vulnerable. It taught me to love deeply and care enough not to coddle anyone but push and refuse to let them stop. To some I am hard and harsh because I want results not excuses but I have very little space for people who don’t want to grow because my true tribe doesn’t allow me wallow and stagnate.

To my people I say:

You have provided a safe space for me and I bless God for you. I am not indebted to you to return any favours; I am here because we are destined to greatness. I love you dearly and you have my friendship period!!! I have said it before and I will say it again, you are worth every minute of the airtime and there is a plan for your life even when it looks bleak and dark right now. Our lives are inexplicably intertwined for a reason, season or lifetime.

Your space is available for as long as it needs to be. You are free to be yourself. There is no judgement in this space only honest conversation, a pursuit for growth and God. Don’t judge me by your past experience, only give me time to prove to you that I am here, committed to you and this space because it is an assignment.

To others around me I say:

Find your tribe, know who is critical to your path, know whose life must be shifted by yours, commit to be that available and faithful friend before you are brother or sister. The knowledge of love could heal a love. To love is to forgive. To love is see the good in the other. To love is to seek God about each other and work diligently to ensure each becomes God’s dream.

What is friendship?

It is not that hard when we understand that friendship is a gift…a precious, precious gift.

  • Friendship is a tool in God’s hand for healing and restoration.
  • Friendship is an avenue to heal, strengthen, and secure.
  • Friendship is a place where growth can be demanded and supported.
  • Friendship is a place of restoration and revitalisation.

Do you know how the people around you are doing…really doing? It is important to find out how people are and know that you are important.

  • Take time to know your people and take care of them as God leads.
  • Be gentle when needed, be firm when demanded.
  • Be strong at the right time; break down and deal when needed.
  • There is no end to the depth and richness friendship brings.

We are friends before we are family.


Photo by Arthur Ogleznev on

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